With the help of Russia and Iran, Assad has turned the tide of Syria's war. But victory on the battlefield has come at a cost
Bashar Assad is the current president of Syria as well as the Regional Secretary of the country's Ba'ath Party.
The son of late Syrian president Hafez Assad, Bashar Assad was chosen by his father as successor only after the untimely death of his older brother, Bassel. At the time, Bashar Assad was completing his ophthalmology training in London, and his father was worried that his son's lack of experience in state affairs would eventually spell the end of the Ba'ath party's 30-year reign in Syria.
Bashar, who is also a colonel in the Syrian military, assumed into the role of president in June 2000. One of his first acts as president was to release dozens of political prisoners from Syrian jails, a move that many hoped would be only the first in a series of actions that would lead Syria closer to reform and perhaps toward better relations with the West. A year later, however, Syrian security forces resumed a crackdown on political dissent inside the country.
Regarding his views on Israel, immediately upon entering office Assad stated his support for a Hezbollah presence on Israel's border with Lebanon, repeated his calls for an unconditional Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights, and expressed his support for the Palestinian use of violence against Israel.
Following the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, the Assad regime was accused by the United States of allowing Jihadist fighters to enter Iraq through Syria. Assad also ignored repeated calls by Washington to end support for Hezbollah, and prevent Palestinian terror groups from operating on Syrian territory. All this, combined with his alliance with Iran, signaled swiftly deteriorating Syrian-U.S. relations.
The assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri in February 2005, for which Syria was largely blamed, was the final straw that prompted Washington to pull its ambassador from Damascus.
Assad denied that Syria had been involved in the assassination, but a wave of Lebanese hostility sparked by the assassination of the much-loved former leader added to pressure on Syria to pull its troops from Lebanon after almost 30 years.
Despite the removal of troops, however, the Assad regime continues to play a role in Lebanese affairs, primarily through the continued support for Hezbollah, which Israel alleges is receiving arms from Damascus. Following the 2006 Second Lebanon War between Israel and Hezbollah, Assad hailed the Shi'ite group's “victory” and condemned other Arab leaders for not supporting the militant organization against Israel.
Despite initial predictions that the politically inexperienced Assad would struggle to maintain a grip on power, the opposite appears to be true. Nonetheless, some pundits have speculated that Assad is merely a figurehead for the Ba'ath regime, and that Syrian policies are actually formed by others.
Bashar Assad is married to Asma Assad, a British-born Sunni Muslim from London, where the two met and she was raised. They have three children, the oldest named for his grandfather, Hafez.
The presidency's Facebook page posted that the speech would be aired later Wednesday. It did not provide further details. Assad, 54, is not known to have any specific health condition
This marks the second round of sanctions imposed by the Washington aiming to deter 'bad actors who continue to aid and finance the Assad regime's atrocities'
With Russia pushing for all UN humanitarian aid in Syria to be controlled by Damascus, some Western countries are trying to find ways to bypass the Assad regime
'Pro-government forces and UN-designated terrorists flagrantly violated the laws of war and the rights of Syrian civilians,' chairman of UN panel says
U.S. sanctions imposed by on Assad's regime led to resurfacing of thousands of images of torture victims
The United States imposed new sanctions on Assad's regime, causing a re-circulation of thousands of smuggled images of torture victims
Vulnerable to arrests, torture and even death at the hands of the Assad regime and militias, Syrian journalists 'never know the rules we need to follow'
Rebuilding destroyed cities will take billions of dollars more and cannot start until powers involved back a peaceful transition away from the rule of President Bashar al-Assad, EU governments say
Pulling out of the humanitarian notification system could have far-reaching implications for the population of the war-torn country
The Syrian leader may have won the civil war but he’s about to defeated by economic distress. The U.S. can sit back and let it happen on its own
Damascus looks to Russia and Iran for help, but sees 'no magic wand'
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said 'many more' sanctions against Assad government should be expected in the coming weeks and months
The court sentenced Rifaat Assad to four years in prison, and for his property in France and England to be seized
The new sanctions give Trump wider powers to freeze assets of anyone dealing with Syria in addition to targeting those dealing with Russian and Iranian entities in the country
Washington is due to slap harsher sanctions on Syria and those who help it, but that will likely do little to deter Russia and Iran from aiding the regime
Opposition sources suspect the strikes targeted militant hideouts
Opposition activists say airstrikes targeted rebel-held areas, but there was no immediate word on casualties
Russia's apparent interest in Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not because it is concerned with resolving it
Since the beginning of the coronavirus crisis, the country has lost more than $775 million a month, or about $26 million a day, and Russia is waiting for payment
Rami Makhlouf, a maternal cousin of Assad, played a big role in financing Assad's war effort in the conflict under way since 2011, Western officials have said
The UN special envoy said that the meeting will take place as soon as the coronavirus crisis allows
A new video by Makhlouf, the third in less than a month, is another hint of a rumored major rift in the tight-knit Assad family
The incredible behind-the-scenes story of how Iran’s Soleimani eliminated Hezbollah’s top commander – who dared to say no
Governor of Homs, Syria's largest province, takes over post as local currency reaches record lows
By prioritizing the most politically expedient cases, the ICC absolves those responsible for the gravest crimes of mass murder and human rights violations – from Bashar Assad to China, and from Myanmar to Iran
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said members of the al-Qaida-linked group known as Horas al-Din attacked government forces. It said the fighting left 21 troops and 13 Horas al-Din members dead
President Assad is squeezing his billionaire cousin to pay for Russia's expenses ■ Kremlin needs Iran out of Syria to reap the rewards of its strategic investment
No one knows why Rami Makhlouf took to Facebook to plead for tax relief, but it could be to save his assets from Russia
Disputes and intrigue are not new to the family, including feuds and defections within its inner circle, but the public airing of grievances is extremely rare